Friday, August 31, 2018

Change your mind, change your mouth

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Matthew 15-16; Psalm 88

‘But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’”  Matthew 15:18,19

Have you ever surprised yourself by what came out of your mind or mouth? You spill a jug of juice and it’s “Oh ____!” Someone cuts you off in traffic and, mentally at least, you flip them the bird. Or you find yourself harboring, toward public figures like politicians and journalists, all manner of critical thoughts, clever put-downs, even rants at the TV.

So, we recognize within ourselves the defilements which Jesus pointed out. Can we do anything more about them than pray for a supernatural heart transplant?  I think we can.

Paul’s advice to the Ephesians is full of action, suggesting that a change of heart on our part is a joint effort of God and us. That we even have the desire to change is God’s work. But there’s something we can do too. Here is the Ephesians passage from The Living Bible (relevant words in bold—my emphasis):
Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves.  If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil. If anyone is stealing he must stop it and begin using those hands of his for honest work so he can give to others in need. Don’t use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing” - Ephesians 5:25-29 TLB.

And one more bit of to-do from James 1:19:
Dear brothers, don’t ever forget that it is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry” - James 1:19 TLB

As Joyce Meyer says in the introduction to her book Battlefield of the Mind:

“So many people’s problems are rooted in thinking patterns that actually produce the problems they experience in their lives. Satan offers wrong thinking to everyone, but we do not have to accept his offer. Learn what types of thinking are acceptable to the Holy Spirit and what types are not acceptable.

“Second Corinthians 10:4,5 clearly indicates that we must know the Word of God well enough to be able to compare what is in our mind with what is in the mind of God

“The mind is the battlefield. It is a vital necessity that we line up our thoughts with God’s thoughts. This is a process that will take time and study” - Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind p. 4 (emphasis mind).
PRAYER: Help me to be aware of faulty (according to Your word) thoughts and thought patterns within me and not just bemoan them, but act to change them. Amen. 


The Bible Project VIDEO: Matthew Part 2 - ch.14-28 (Read Scripture Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked The Living Bible (or TLB) copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. The Living Bible, TLB, and the The Living Bible logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Moved to mercy

Jesus feeds the multitude - artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 13-14; Psalm 87

"And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick." Matthew 14:14

Our reading today starts out with Jesus trying to get away from the crowds: "When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat…" The "it" is news that his friend and relative John (the Baptist) has just been killed (decapitated no less!) by Herod, instigated by Herod's concubine Herodias.

We can understand Jesus' need to be alone at such a time. But when He gets to land, a crowd is there to meet Him. However, instead of being annoyed at this (how I would have felt if my expectations of a quiet afternoon had been dashed like that) He is "moved with compassion."

["Moved with compassion" is splanchnizomai is from the word splanchna - bowels. The Hebrews regarded splanchna as the place where tender mercies and feelings of affection, compassion, sympathy, and pity originated - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1317.]

Out of this compassion Jesus spends the afternoon healing the sick and, when it gets late, multiplying the five loaves and two fish to feed everyone before He sends them home.

Jesus performed other miracles as a result of splanchnizomai.
  • He fed another large crowd after a three-day healing and teaching 'conference' (Matthew 15:32).
  • He restored the sight of two blind men who sat beside the road calling out, even as the people around told them to shut up (Matthew 20:34).
  • He healed a leper (Mark 1:41).
  • He raised a widow's son back to life (Luke 7:13).
  • He gave this compassion to two parable characters: the Good Samaritan (Luke 19:33) and the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20).

I need more of this compassion in my life. Instead of seeing people as threats, or irritants, or losers, or rivals, or… I would like to see under and beyond behavior to the need of which it's a symptom—a need that's best filled by Jesus and what He offers.

What about you?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please give me a softer heart, that is moved by the things that move You. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Convincing the skeptic

Jesus eats with publicans and sinners - Alexandre Bida
Jesus eats with publicans and sinners - Alexandre Bida

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 11-12; Psalm 86

TO CHEW ON: " ' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon." The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Look, a glutton and winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" But wisdom is justified by her children.' " Matthew 11:19

Have you noticed how, when a segment of the population disagrees with government's position on an issue (like developing land or extracting oil or ore from the earth) they demand a study. When that study comes back but doesn't support their position, they ask for another? It seems there is within us an unwillingness to move from strongly held beliefs and convictions no matter what arguments or proofs we're presented with.

That's what we see in the people of Jesus' time. They were having a hard time believing God had actually showed up.

They flocked out to see John who preached repentance in his unusual get-up and abrasive way (Matthew 3:4-7). But instead of linking him with the fulfillment of the prophecy (Matthew 11:10 compare Malachi 3:1), they said, "He has a demon."

They came to Jesus and listened to His words with amazement but when they saw Him socializing with the wrong set, they discounted Him as a party boy, glutton and drunkard.

Jesus summed up the situation with a little proverb: "But wisdom is justified by her children."

The Amplified renders it:
"Yet wisdom is justified and vindicated by what she does (her deeds) and by her children" - Matthew 11:19 AMP.

and The Message:
"Opinion polls don't count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating" - Matthew 11:19 MSG.

I take that to mean, judge the wisdom of a teacher and his / her teaching (Jesus's John's, ours) by the fruit of that life and its influence.

This is encouraging to us as we seek to win family members and friends to Jesus. They will probably be swayed from skepticism more readily by the example of lives of love and service than by any of our intellectual apologetic arguments, no matter how clever or convincing.

PRAYER: Dear God, in the end, You by Your Holy Spirit, break down barriers of unbelief in the hearts of family members and friends. Help me to live a life that will help, not hinder, them along the path to belief. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Insulting the guests

Jesus Eats With Publicans and Sinners - by Alexandre Bida

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 9-10; Psalm 85

TO CHEW ON: "And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, 'Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When Jesus heard that, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.' " Matthew 9:11,12

Jesus and His disciples were socializing with known sinners. This dinner party was in Matthew's own home (this is clear from the Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-32 versions of this story, where Matthew is called "Levi").

You've got to admire Matthew's humility when he reports Jesus' defense of why He's associating with, what his critics consider, riffraff.  Jesus says they are sick and need a doctor, sinners who need to repent, unrighteous who need mercy. He's basically describing Matthew and current company. How would you or I feel if a dinner guest said that about us and our guests?

But it seems Matthew had no problem with it. He had faced himself in this way. It had brought him to his moment of decision, led him to leave his job— a life change (Matthew 9:9).  Now he wanted his friends to be exposed to the same ideas and the Person who had helped him see himself.

I would suggest that it is similar for us. It's only when we are honest about our condition and realistic about who and what we are that we get free to leave the old life behind and embark with Jesus on the new.

We have to face that we don't "make mistakes," we sin. Our sinful acts aren't the odd exception, they are symptoms of our chronic condition. We need to repent, turn around, and come to Dr. Jesus for mercy. This is not some self-improvement program for us and our friends, but a spiritual healing, a rebirth.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, in my society where "sin" and "repentance" are words I rarely hear, help me to understand the depth of human separation from You, the need to admit that we're all sinners and must turn around (repent) to re-establish our relationship with God. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Skewed priorities

"Swine Driven Into the Sea" by James Tissot

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Matthew7-8; Psalm 84

“And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus…” - Matthew 8:34

Just prior to our focus verse, we see Jesus do something truly amazing—liberate two demon-possessed men (Matthew 8:28-33). These men have, till now, spooked all passersby. No one even comes close to the tomb-caves where they live because they’re too scary.

With a word Jesus frees them from the demonic spirits that have been controlling them. He gives those spirits permission to enter a nearby herd of pigs. True to their destructive nature, the demons cause the pigs to stampede to their briny deaths in the sea.

Then the swine-herders rush back to the city with word of what has happened. The whole city comes out and we (at least I) expect them to welcome with open arms Jesus, this Man who works wonders, who frees enslaved brothers. We expect another Samaritan Woman saga, when the whole town, responding to the woman’s testimony, becomes receptive to Jesus (John 4:28-42).

But no. The end of our story isn’t like that. The last part of Matthew 8:34 is a whiplash of surprise: “And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region” (emphasis added).

Oh no. Lost pigs are obviously more important to them than found men. We ask, how could they be that way—begging someone who has freed these men to leave? Obviously their priorities are skewed.

Yet, am I, are we so different? Who wins when we sense that introducing others to Jesus by responding to their needs will impinge on our time, our plans, our bank accounts, our peaceful tidy homes?  

Dear Jesus, please help my life to be an open door to You and people meeting You, not a closed door sending You and others away because I am self-centered.  Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The counterintuitive Be-Attitudes

man on ladder peeling back the sky
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 5-6; Psalm 83

TO CHEW ON: "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The seven verses at the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10) are called the "Beatitudes." The word comes the Latin word beatitudo. So much for my fancy that beatitudes was a modern word grafted together from be and attitudes, i.e. attitudes worth assimilating into one's state of being. [Beatitudo means blessedness from beatus - happy.]

On looking over the beatitudes, it strikes me that at least four are states which we would not readily seek out.

  • It's not trendy to be "'poor in spirit'" (Matthew 5:3)— "… those who recognize their spiritual poverty and, casting aside all self-sufficiency, seek God's grace" - Lyle Story, commentary on Matthew, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1296.

  • Who wants to "'mourn'" (Matthew 5:4)?  Though our commenter assures us this doesn't refer to being bereaved but to  "… those who experience the sorrow of repentance" - Ibid.

  • We readily equate "meek" with "weak (Matthew 5:5) though again our commenter disabuses us of that notion, defining "'meek'" as "…controlled strength. The word carries the idea of humility and self-discipline" - Ibid.

  • Finally, do any of us relish the thought of persecution (Matthew 5:10)?

Our reading today reminds me again of how humanly unintuitive the Kingdom of Heaven is. Accustomed to operating in the natural we would hardly equate blessedness or a state of happiness with a majority of the beatitude qualities.

Two things come to mind:

1. We can't trust our instincts to pilot us to a place of God's blessing. Jesus said, "'My kingdom is not of this world.'" He said this as He stood meek before a puzzled Pilate. He went on to elaborate on his counterintuitive behaviour: "'If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here'" - John 18:36.  

2. It's only as we familiarize ourselves with the Bible that we will know what Kingdom of Heaven principles are, and as we submit to them will experience the happy blessedness and that the beatitudes promise.

PRAYER: Dear God please help me to accept my own poverty of spirit. Please infuse me with a hunger and thirst for righteousness as I seek, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to incorporate these be-attitudes into my life. Amen. 


Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotes are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

When God is pleased

Dove descending on Jesus at His baptism - Artist unknown
Dove descending on Jesus at baptism - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 3-4; Psalm 82

TO CHEW ON: "And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" Matthew 3:17

When people came to John to be baptized it was in repentance. Repentance implied they had done something wrong from which they needed to turn. Jesus, however, was sinless. He didn't need to repent, so why did He need to be baptized?

John objected when Jesus asked him for baptism: "I need to be baptized by You," he said - Matthew 3:14.

But Jesus countered with "'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness'" (Matthew 3:15). What did He mean by "fulfill all righteousness"?

Matthew Henry in his commentary on this verse says He "fulfills all righteousness" in two main ways:

1] It shows His grace.
"There was a propriety in ever thing that Christ did for us; it was all graceful (Hebrews 2:10; 7:26); and we must study to do not only that which behooves us but that which becomes us" (in plain words, do not only what is required but what is fittingly attractive).

2] It shows His ownership of the divine institution of baptism.
The Old Testament law contains many washing ceremonies. Matthew Henry: "Thus Christ filled up the righteousness of the ceremonial law which consisted of divers washings; thus He recommended the gospel ordinance of baptism to His church."

The beauty of Jesus' obedience, humility, and graciousness was enhanced by what followed. In a burst of unusual demonstrativeness heaven broke through. The Holy Spirit descended as a dove on Jesus and God the Father called in a thunderous voice that echoed through the Jordan's hills (or I imagine hills—like the hills that surround the Saskatchewan River where I was baptized): "'This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.'" If there was any doubt in Jesus' mind that He was doing the right thing, it was now dispelled.

I submit that this is sometimes how God deals with us too. We have a choice. We consider the options and take the course of obedience. Often, at the moment we cast the die, there is no emotion to confirm us in our decision. But later, perhaps with a sense of surprise, we feel the divine smile, the warm, approving benediction. For our love for God and our obedience to Him are of one piece and prove that we are His (John 15:23-26).

Henry says of God the Father's declaration and us: "See how ready He is to own us in Him: He is my beloved Son not only with whom but in whom I am well pleased. He is pleased with all that are in Him and are united to Him by faith" -  Matthew Henry's Commentary on Matthew 3.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this intimate glimpse into the relationship of the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank You for Jesus' example  and willingness to "fulfill all righteousness" in this humble way. Please help me to be as obedient. Amen. 


Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Spiritual dreams

"The Wise Men Come to Worship" by James Tissot
"The Wise Men Come to Worship" by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 1-2; Psalm 81

"Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way." Matthew 2:12

A sidebar article in my Bible observes about dreams, "The NT opens with a burst of dreams, visions, angelic visitations and prophecies and closes with John's revelation…" James W. Ryle, "Dreams, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1291,2.

The story of Jesus' incarnation is particularly full of dreams.

  • An angel comes to Joseph in a dream to tell him it is OK to marry Mary - Matthew 1:20.
  • In our reading today, an angel warns the wise men away from return to Herod - Matthew 2:12.
  • In the next verse of Matthew, we have another dream of Joseph's in which an angel tells him to flee from Herod to Egypt with Mary and baby Jesus - Matthew 2:13.
  • After Herod dies, an angel gives Joseph the news and tells him to settle his family in Israel - Matthew 2:19.
  • En-route another dream confirms his intuition about the danger of living in Judea and so he returns to Galilee - Matthew 2:22.

The article quoted from above goes on to say:
"…neither Jesus nor the apostles give any particular precept concerning the phenomena of dreams or visions. This is somewhat enigmatic in that, while the Bible does not teach about dreams and visions in any systematic manner, yet by citing so many significant examples it validates their existence and use by God as a means of communicating to people" - Ibid.  

What do you think—does God still speak to people in dreams today? Google that question and you'll raise many links to check out. Perhaps one of the simplest answers is on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association Answers page:
"God may communicate through dreams or visions even today, but we need to carefully check any such guidance we receive with Scripture and godly counsel to be sure it is from the Lord..." (read the entire answer).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for preserving Jesus' human life through dream warnings and messages. I know You can communicate to me in whatever way You choose. Help me to be listening. Amen.


The Bible Project VIDEO: Matthew (Part 1: 1-13) (Read Scripture Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

When your belly is full of tears

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 35-36; Psalm 80

TO CHEW ON: "Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine." Psalm 80:14

From the vantage point of hindsight we know the "vine's" story—the ups and downs of Israel's history. It's easy for us gloss over generations of slavery in Egypt, the back-and-forth between oppression and freedom of the judges' period, the waves of invaders that led to the exile of the Jews in at the end of the Old Testament.  Our Bible reading takes us through millennia in mere hours. We readily forget how horrible it must have been to live in any one of those dark times.

This psalm, however, seems like a cry from the middle of one of them:
"O Lord God of hosts,
How long will You be angry
Against the prayer of Your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in great measure" - Psalm 80:4,5 (emphasis added).

One of the powerful things about the psalms is how they express the experience and emotion we all go through, no matter when we live. Can't you just hear the Christians of Syria, hounded and killed by ISIS terrorists weeping these verses, or the family in Africa devastated by the  Ebola virus, or the family in North America cut apart by cancer, or…?

In this psalm there is only one resolution to whatever tragedy the pray-er is experiencing. It is God.

Our prayers can echo the psalmist's as we cry from whatever dark place we're in:
"Restore us ... Restore us ... Return we beseech You...
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts,
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved" - Psalm 80:3,7,14,19.

PRAYER: Dear God, please restore and return to those with their bellies full of tears who call on You today. Amen. 


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Fighting life's battles

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 32-34; Psalm 79

“‘Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.’” 2 Chronicles 32:7,8

Judah’s King Hezekiah gave the encouragement, above, to his subjects in the face of Sennacherib’s (king of Assyria) invasion of Judah. But before he said these things, he was busy doing what he could to fortify and protect his territory from the Assyrian threat.

  • He stopped the flow of water to the land (2 Chronicles 34:3,4).
  • He repaired the Jerusalem wall (2 Chronicles 34:5).
  • He manufactured and distributed new arms (2 Chronicles 34:5). 
  • He organized the army (2 Chronicles 34:6).

Then he gathered the people for the pep talk.

Not surprisingly, Sennacherib reaction to Hezekiah’s speech was to mock it and Hezekiah’s faith in God. Sennacherib sent a delegation to Jerusalem to challenge Yahweh and  instill fear (2 Chronicles 34:10-15).

Sennacherib’s mockery and threats brought Hezekiah and Isaiah (the prophet) to their knees: they “prayed and cried out to Him…” 2 Chronicles 34:20.

Then God intervened supernaturally: “… sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the King of Assyria" (2 Chronicles 34:21).

I think Hezekiah here demonstrates some great life principles for us too. When we’re under attack or in trouble—physically, financially, socially or in whatever way we:
  • Do all we can. We follow doctors’ orders, put our financial house in order, attempt to make peace with our enemies, or whatever the situation dictates.
  • Encourage ourselves in God, refusing to give in to the fear and what-ifs of the situation, reminding ourselves that “there are more with us than there are with them.”
  • Pray. Though we've done all we can, in the end our trust is in God and His coming through for us. In His time He will, as He did for Hezekiah and his subjects.  

PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to remember that I have more than the “arm of flesh” with me; I have the Lord, God of heaven and earth. Amen.

Psalm 79

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Cleaning the temple

Hezekiah cleanses the temple
Hezekiah cleanses the temple
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 28-31; Psalm 78

TO CHEW ON: "'Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.'"  2 Chronicles 29:5

In Old Testament times decisions about faith and religious practice were usually made by political leaders and not individuals.  Kings Ahaz and Hezekiah are examples of this.

King Ahaz, Hezekiah's father, determinedly, pointedly, and openly turned away from God. When he was defeated by the Syrians he decided to start worshiping their gods: "'Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me'" - 2 Chronicles 28:23.

And so he destroyed worship objects of God Jehovah, locked the temple, made altars throughout Jerusalem, and high places to sacrifice to "other gods" throughout Judah (2 Chronicles 28:24-25). It was no secret who he was worshiping and I can only imagine the trouble his subjects would have got into had he discovered they were clinging to Yahweh.

When his son Hezekiah became king, he reversed those practices. Immediately on ascending to the throne, this 25-year-old opened the temple doors, gathered the priests, and put them to work cleansing the temple in the hope of restoring God-honoring worship. Soon the lamps would again burn and the smell of incense and the smoke of offerings would again fill the air.

Though our faith and practice may not have the public component of a central worship place with open (or locked) doors, lit (or unlit) lamps, pungent incense and smoky offerings, the principles of opening, cleansing and sanctifying still apply to our worship. Now, however, each one of us administers our own temple—the temple of our heart and physical body.

King Hezekiah's directive to his priests is an excellent place to start with this: "Now sanctify the house of the Lord … and carry out the rubbish from the holy place."

In New Testament terms:

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" - 1 Corinthians 3:16,17.


"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's" - 1 Corinthians 6:19,20.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to keep my temple clean, myself set apart for You and Your purposes, as I administer my body, soul, and spirit—the temple of Your Holy Spirit. Amen. 



New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Asaph approach to conquering fear

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 25-27; Psalm 77

TO CHEW ON: "And I said, 'This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.' I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old." Psalm 77:10-11

One characteristic of memory is that it is selective. We tend to remember the good over the bad. Think back to your childhood. Chances are it will seem an idyllic, happy time. "Those were the good old days," we say. Somehow the fears, embarrassments, boredoms and dissatisfactions are not what we remember first about the past.

Memories -- good memories -- are what Asaph, the psalmist, uses to conquer his fearful thoughts during a very bad time. He is in a "day of trouble" where he prays all night long (Psalm 77:2). He feels so overwhelmed even thoughts of God don't comfort him (Psalm 77:3). He is troubled sleepless and speechless (Psalm 77:4).

Then he decides to take himself and his negative thoughts in hand. "But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High." He reviews God's attributes in a series of rhetorical questions (Psalm 77:7-8) and recalls times from the past when God appeared unbeatable:

There was the time God redeemed "the sons of Jacob and Joseph" (Psalm 77:15) -- a reference, perhaps, to God saving the Israelites from famine by bringing them to Egypt where Joseph had stored up food.

There was the time "The waters saw You and they were afraid" (Psalm 77:16) -- a reference to the parting of the Red Sea when the Egyptians were hot on their heels.

There was the time "You led Your people like a flock, By the hand of Moses and Aaron" (Psalm 77:20) -- a reference to their 40 years in the wilderness.

Are you in a desperate, fearful, can't-sleep-because-of-troubled-thoughts time? Or maybe it's just a thin-cloud-of-anxiety, or bad-premonition, or can't-stop-worrying-about-things-up-ahead time. Whatever causes your spirit to "complain" use the Asaph approach to conquering fear.

1. Ask yourself the rhetorical questions he asks, to remind yourself about the bigness of God:
- "Will the Lord cast off forever?"
- Will He be favourable no more?"
- Has His mercy ceased forever?" etc. (Psalm 77:7-9).
The answer: Of course not!

2. Think back to specific instances in your life when God has come through for you. Has He preserved your life in a dramatic way? Has He helped you through financial difficulties? Has He answered prayers, made you a part of amazing "coincidences," showered you with everyday mercies? Go back even farther to reviewing the history of your family, your people. Reminisce yourself into a place where you can exclaim like Asaph did: "Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples" (Psalm 77:13-14).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for evidences of Your presence in my life. Thank You for memories that reassure me of Your ability, power and love. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Two Cautionary Tales

King Joash Repairs the Temple - 2 Chron. 24
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 21-24; Psalm 76

“Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people and said to them, ’Thus says God: “Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you”’

So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 24:20,21

Our reading today is the sad story of Joash. He came to Judah’s throne when he was a mere seven years old. Under the influence of priest Joehoiada, he made an excellent start, repairing the neglected temple and restoring worship.

But after Jehoiada died, Joash allowed the leaders of Judah to influence him. They had a very different agenda. They steered him away from the worshiping Yahweh to idols and his idolatry became so entrenched even the “wrath that came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass” didn’t move him from it.

When Zechariah, son of Joash’s old mentor Jehoiada, warned him in a bold Holy Spirit-inspired prophecy of the inevitable consequence (“Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you” - 2 Chronicles 24:20), Joash had him stoned to death.

Zecharaiah reminds us a a New Testament character who was also stoned when he spoke out against the perverted worship of his day. That would be Stephen. Their ends are eerily alike (Acts 7:51-60).

Two lessons jump out at me from these two tales:

1. We need to be aware of and intentional about who we allow to influence us. When Joash was under the tutelage of Jehoiada, he was inspired to honour God by fixing up the temple and restoring the worship of Yahweh. But when Jehoiada died, he allowed himself to be led by Judah’s leaders right back into the swamp of idolatry.

We too put ourselves under influencers. Who we spend time with, what we read, what we watch, listen to, the music we play—all affect our loyalties. Let’s not slip into modern idolatry by being careless about who and what we allow to influence us.

2. Being a mouthpiece for God can be dangerous. Zechariah and Stephen discovered that. As our society drifts ever farther from Judeo-Christian principles, we do well to remind ourselves of the price we too may be asked to pay when we allow the Holy Spirit carte blanche to our lives.

PRAYER: Dear Father, please help me to choose my influencers well. Help me, in turn, to be a good mentor to others. May I be willing to pay the price of being the temple of Your Spirit, no matter what the price. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

We're not the masters of our fate

Image: Pixabay

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 18-20; Psalm 75

“And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 20:29

“For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another. Psalm 75:6,7

William Ernest Henley ends his poem Invictus with the assertion:

I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

He echoes the sentiment we humans cling to. From life’s beginning (via artificial means of conception) to middle (change our gender if we so desire) to end (lengthen life with medical science or legally end our own lives at the time we choose), we like to think we’re in control.

We kid ourselves, of course. Psalm 75 gives us a more realistic picture. There we see that God is behind it all, determining the times of everyone, from individuals to rulers of nations (Psalm 75:6-8).

Our reading  in 2 Chronicles today describes two events that illustrate that.

Before Ahab and Jehoshaphat went to war, prophet Micaiah predicted that Ahab would be killed in battle. Determined to prove him wrong, Ahab disguised himself as a common soldier. Though the enemy pursued the kingly figure of Jehoshaphat, he managed to survive. Meanwhile Ahab was hit by a “random” arrow that happened to get him in one of the few vulnerable places on his well-armoured person (2 Chronicles 18).

In the second event King Jehoshaphat, threatened by the Ammonites and Moabites, took his problem to God: "We have no power against this great multitude...nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You" - 2 Chronicles 20:12.

God's solution came via the words of the prophet Jahaziel, who said, "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" - 2 Chronicles 20:17.

The next day the army entered battle in a very unconventional way, behind the singers and worshipers. Even as the praise began "...the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir ... and they were defeated" - 2 Chronicles 20:22.
As people of faith, I think we put too little stock in God's ability to manipulate the course of our own lives and of history. We need to spend less time criticizing and scheming how to make things happen and more time acknowledging "We have no power, nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You," and then praise Him for the victory He is accomplishing.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your sovereignty over individuals, rulers, and nations.  Help me entrust my future to you, and to keep praying for the leaders of my country and the countries of the world, knowing that You are in control. Amen.
Psalm 75

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Community transformation—is it possible?

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 13-17; Psalm 74

TO CHEW ON: “… and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD God of their father.” 2 Chronicles 13:18

“O God, how long will the adversary reproach?
Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever?” Psalm 74:10

Three things come together for me in today’s readings:

1. In the recitation of good and bad kings from 2 Chronicles, what stands out is that all the bad kings were guilty of occultism, idolatry, and seeking to do things on their own without God. God’s blessing flowed again when godly kings destroyed these things and returned to true worship.

2. In the psalms reading, psalmist Asaph’s pleading with God (to again make His name famous, to make His cause prevail, to restore sincere worship and purity to the land) resonates. It’s how I would pray for my own land and people in the 21st century.

3. I watched a video about community transformation last night. In it the filmmakers tell the story of several communities (one in Mexico, one in Guatemala, and one in California) that experienced community-wide spiritual revival in the 1990s. It happened when the church and concerned pastors became modern-day Asaphs and pleaded for their cities, with prayer and fasting.

When God revealed to them the occultic roots of their community’s enslavement to the drug cartels (Mexico), poverty, drunkenness, and abuse (Guatemala), and addiction (California) they confronted and took authority over dark forces with, again, prayer and fasting.

If we are burdened for our land and community like Asaph was, let’s follow the example of the Christians of the 1990s and contend (with prayer, fasting, church unity etc.) for another transformation!

Dear Father, I believe the kind of turnaround You brought to Judah and Israel under godly kings, and the transformation witnessed in the 1990s is possible today. Help me to contend for it in my country and town. Amen.

MORE: Transformations (the documentary film)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Leadership - how does yours rate?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 9-12; Psalm 73

TO CHEW ON: "Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the Lord your God. Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness." 2 Chronicles 9:8

The fashion these days is to criticize leaders, not praise them. The Queen of Sheba's idea that God had blessed Israel by letting her be ruled by a king as wise as Solomon seems foreign to us — fed as we are by scandal-driven media features, negative news items and critical editorials about our leaders.

But maybe we should stop criticizing and complaining. Because our rulers are actually there by God's permission and authority as much as Israel's were (see Romans 13:1).

It helps, of course, to change our focus and instead of looking for mistakes, look for ways our rulers are a positive force in our nation, region and town. Political parties and preferences aside, there is much to appreciate and be thankful for in our democratic leaders.

Politicians aren't our only leaders. Churches, organizations, even families have leaders. If you are a parent, you are a leader.

What kind of leaders are we? Would someone exclaim about our church, club or family how fortunate they are because they are under our leadership?

PRAYER: Dear God, Solomon prayed for divine wisdom to lead Israel. I need similar wisdom to lead in my small way in my family and every other place where I have leadership responsibilities. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 73 

MORE: Advice for leaders

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing writes a lot about leadership on his blog Michael Hyatt - Intentional Leadership. Here are links to a few recent articles about leadership:

"Why Leaders Cannot Afford to be Easily Offended"

"Four Temptations Christian Leaders Face"

"A Tale of Two Leaders: Which Are You?" <— this is excellent!

 Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Human temples

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 5-8; Psalm 72

TO CHEW ON: "But will God indeed dwell with men on earth? Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built!" 2 Chronicles 6:18

Picture the scene: all of Israel is gathered in Jerusalem for the dedication of a magnificent structure - the temple David began with an idea, plan, materials, and Solomon built.

On this day of the temple's dedication Solomon stands before the assembled crowd, probably in the temple's outer courtyard, blesses them, then ascends a bronze platform, kneels, raises his hands toward heaven and prays the eloquent prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.

Within it he asks the question of our today's focus verse: "Will God indeed dwell with men on earth?"

He answers: "Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built!" Solomon grasped God's bigness and the impossibility of only one location ever holding Him.

He's right, of course. No place on earth can contain God, as in become a boundary or edge past which He cannot go, or contain His sum-total so that He is no where else. But God will dwell with men on earth — will and does.

1. In Israel's case, God responded to Solomon's prayer by sending fire which consumed the prepared sacrifices and glory so awesome, the priests couldn't enter the temple to complete their duties (2 Chronicles 7:14). From that time forward, God's presence dwelt in the temple's Holy of Holies room, as it had the ark.

2. Centuries later God sent Jesus to dwell with us in human flesh (John 1:1-5,14)

3. Now, since the day of Pentecost  and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), God dwells in us:

"Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God's temple (His sanctuary), and that God's Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]?" 1 Corinthians 3:16 Amplified
"Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Message

PRAYER: Dear God, please teach me what it means to be Your dwelling in practical day-to-day ways. May Your glory shine through my life today more than it ever has before. Amen.

It's interesting to note that today's psalm is one of the rare ones written by Solomon!

MORE: The Holy Spirit in us — insights from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest

"It is very easy to quench the Spirit; we do it by despising the chastening of the Lord, by fainting when we are rebuked by Him....Never quench the Spirit..."  (August 14 reading).
"Never discard a conviction. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to have brought it to your mind, it is that thing He is detecting." (September 24th reading)
"Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam." (October 10th reading)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What is your heart's desire?

Solomon's Dream - Artist unknown
Solomon's Dream - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Chronicles 1-4; Psalm 71

" 'Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people ...'
God said to Solomon, 'Since this is your heart's desire ... therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given to you.' " 2 Chronicles 10-12

This story reminds me of the three wishes folk tales I loved as a kid. It also prompts me to examine myself and ask, what would I have said if I were Solomon?

In the dream God lists some common and desirable things Solomon could have asked for: material possessions, prestige, safety and security, and long life (which implies good health). Which of those things wouldn't we want?

I love the telling words that God answers Solomon with. "Since this is your heart's desire..."

How can we know what our heart's desire really is? I've heard Bible teachers describe one way to tell is note the thing(s) our thoughts flit to when there's nothing else vying for their attention.

Using this method I ask myself, what is my heart's desire? The spiritual well-being of my family? The beauty of my house? Great health and fitness? Where I'll spend my next vacation? How I can fulfill my role in God's kingdom?

What is yours?

Is it something that God would be pleased to answer? If not perhaps you and I need to work on changing so that our deepest desires do line up with God's values.

Dear God, please help me be so in touch with You that my deepest heart desires will reflect what You value.


Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures quoted s in this meditation are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Monday, August 13, 2018

An ancient father's advice

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles 25-29; Psalm 70

“‘As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.’” 1 Chronicles 28:9

David’s advice to his newly crowned son, Solomon, is good advice for us too.

David told Solomon:

“know the God of your father…”
Know (yada) is transliterated know, learn, perceive and see, know by experience, recognize, admit, acknowledge and confess.

“…and serve Him…”
Serve (abad) - work serve, labour, serve another by labour.

“…with a loyal (whole - NASB) heart…”
Whole (shalem) - complete, full, perfect.

“… and a willing mind.”

Willing (chaphets) - desiring, delighting in, having pleasure in.

Living out this advice is bound to impact life in practical ways. In Psalm 37, written perhaps around the same time David gave the advice to Solomon (Psalm 37:25), David declares:
“Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD
And He shall give you the desires of your heart” - Psalm 37:3,4.

Notice the word “delight” - an aspect of the willing mind.

David, in Psalm 37, argues against fretting (Psalm 37:7,8), and for keeping life’s big picture in mind (Psalm 37:9-22; 34-40), trusting God to direct the steps of everyday living (Psalm 37:23,24), and of treasuring God and His word in one’s heart (Psalm 37:31 cf. 1 Chronicles 28:9).

In this day of distraction and many shiny things to explore with the accompanying temptation to give one’s heart and mind to them, David’s simple advice to Solomon may be more difficult for us to follow than it would seem. Yet I believe it is the solution to many of the issues we deal with—stress, worry, decision-making, and being scorned, overlooked, and ignored by the world as people of faith, to name some.

PRAYER: Dear Father, I want to know You and serve You with a loyal (my whole) heart, and a willing mind. Please nudge me today when my heart wanders to lesser things.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Your sin hurts more than just you

"Deliverance from the flood" - Psalm 69:15
Engraver Melchior Kussell
Artist SL
From the Pitts Theology Library.

Deliverance from the flood - Psalm 69:15 - Engraving by Melchior Kussel - Artist SL
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles  22-24 Psalm 69

"Let not those who wait for You,
O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek you be confounded because of me,
O God of Israel." Psalm 69:6

What a desperate cry for help David makes in this psalm! In picturesque language he describes the feeling of drowning in trouble and being sucked into the mire of problems (Psalm 69:1-2; 14-15). His enemies seem numberless and his treatment unfair (Psalm 69:4). The message that comes through is, 'None of this is my fault!'

And then we come to verse 5:

"O God you know my foolishness / And my sins are not hidden from you."
Maybe he isn't as blameless as he let on at the beginning.

I really appreciate his thoughts relating to the potential fallout of his actions in verse 6:

"Let not those who wait for You
O Lord of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek you be confounded because of me,
O God of Israel."
The sad truth is that we are often at least a little to blame for our own problems. And when we sin we hurt those who view us as examples and mentors—our children, young Christians, our friends and colleagues, those who look to us for instruction and inspiration etc. Our broken marriages, involvements in pornography, illegal money schemes, theft, child sexual abuse—whatever—especially if we are leaders, impact much more than just our own lives.

Let's keep that in mind before we yield to temptation. Let's let our love for the body of Christ be another reason not to sin in the first place.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to realize how my sin affects Your body (the church) and resist temptation. Help me, at the same time, to refrain from harsh judgment when my brothers and sisters sin. I want to be a restorer of the broken. Amen.


MORE: Second most-quoted psalm
The NIV Study Bible's introduction to this psalm names it the second most-quoted psalm in the New Testament:

"The authors of the NT viewed this cry of a godly sufferer as foreshadowing the sufferings of Christ; no psalm except Psalm 22 is quoted more frequently in the NT" - NIV Study Bible, p. 855.

Those quotes:

  • Psalm 69:4 - John 15:25
  • Psalm 69:9 - John 2:17; Romans 15:3
  • Psalm 69:21 - Matthew 27:34
  • Psalm 69:25 - Acts 1:20
  • Psalm 69:33 - Luke 4:18 
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sing, you kingdoms!

"Glory of the Lamb - Revelation 5:13" by David van der Plaats
"Glory of the Lamb - Revelation 5:13" by David van der Plaats (The Bible and Its Story Vol 10)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Chronicles 18-21;  Psalm 68

 TO CHEW ON: "Sing to God you kingdoms of the earth;
O sing praise to the Lord.  - Psalm 68:32

It's interesting how our two readings complement each other. In Chronicles, we see David going to war, conquering even the giants, and read the author's observation: "And the Lord preserved David wherever he went" - 1 Chronicles 18:13. 

In the psalm David describes one of his battles.

There is blood (Psalm 68:21-23).

There is a procession (Psalm 68:24-27).

And there is the obeisance of earth's rulers (Psalm 68:28-31):

"Sing to God you kingdoms of the earth;
O sing praises to the Lord."

David's words suggest a voluntary—not a forced—praise. They bring to mind the wonderful scene from Revelation:
"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” - Revelation 7:9-10.

I see this psalm as a picture of life.
  • Life on earth is our battlefield.
  • We anticipate the final victory that we know is coming:
 "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
 'O Death, where is your sting?
 O Hades, where is your victory?'
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" - 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Then will come the time when all on earth will acknowledge God for who He is:
“As I live, says the Lord. 
Every knee shall bow to Me, 
And every tongue shall confess to God”- Romans 14:11 (quoting Isaiah 45:23).

PRAYER: Dear God, in a world that doesn't even acknowledge Your existence, the sight of the kingdoms of earth singing Your praises seems almost unimaginable. Help me to cling to this hope with unwavering faith. Amen. 


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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